Thursday, 28 August 2008

Unstuck with a stick

T minus 18 days.

Cycled to Coalburn in Lanarkshire, vaguely south, through Strathaven (Straven) and Lesmahagow (your guess is as good as mine) which will always be etched on my mind for the time I stopped for a water bottle refill in a chip shop, and I overheard a woman ordering deep-fried pizza. I hadn’t heard of the delicacy before. Also travelled through the charming villages of Bogside and Deadwaters. Who in their right mind…? Not a good trip, as the traffic was intense, the conditions, in weather forecaster parlance were “murky” and I had bike problems to boot. 28 miles had been clocked up when a gear cable snapped. I tried to fix it, in the drizzle, by the roadside, but could not. Already my hands were as black as pitch and some of this had transferred to my cream shorts, so not best amused. I could still cycle, but only on the smallest of three cogs, meaning low speed. I couldn’t seem to move the derailleur either, meaning the chain had to stay on the bottom cog. Then I hit upon the plan of jamming a tool behind the derailleur. It fell out at the first bump. Continuing in the drizzle, I was determined to complete 30 miles before heading back. I searched for a piece of wood, found a nice soft, wet piece and rammed it home. It worked! I got back without any trouble, with the chain on the big cog (ie the stiffest seven gears). I was so pleased with myself. It was tough going up steep hills, but slaloming, my newly strengthened stomach muscles and dear old sticky combined forces to see me home. Who says a carrot is better than a stick? I’m going to keep it as a memento. When I saw a racing cyclist fixing a puncture and asked if he needed assistance, I proudly showed him sticky. He said, “That’s a good job is that,” in a not entirely convincing tone. I had chosen to travel south because Mr Westerly Wind was out in full force, and to minimise headwind, I opted to be broadsworded the whole journey instead. Occasionally, at roundabouts for example, I encountered resistance, and Mr Westward would laugh, “Are you stupid? You can’t win against me!” He was right. So, even with the wind and the gears, I still managed an average speed of 13.3 mph, which is ridiculously fast.

No comments: